Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama

A h/c smarm piece for the fic-starved masses. For those of you who like a little advance warning, just a reminder -- I don't do death stories. Angst, yes; death, no. Robyn wanted a hospital scene and while I had intended to do just that, it became something much longer. And, yes, I stole the title from Voyager's 96-97 season finale -- I liked the title. As for the episode....well, let's just say it isn't one of my favorites. ~grin~

Hope and Fear
by Becky
November 1998

Simon stepped away from the ambulance as the doors slammed shut with a final-sounding clang. A moment later, the emergency vehicle roared off down the road, lights flashing, sirens blaring, splitting the chilly evening air even further. Gunfire had already destroyed the tranquility of the normally quiet neighborhood, disrupting the lives of those who had sat unknowing of the terror coming their way.

He glanced down at his watch. Just after 6 p.m. Hard to believe that it all had just started only 20 minutes before. Turning, he looked at the street, noting with some distance the police vehicles, the stolen armored truck from the heist, the other ambulance, cops (both uniformed and street clothes) milling around, and the curious and frightened people from the residential area, some with young children, hanging around the edges of the hastily hung yellow tape. Media had just begun to arrive, adding even more confusion, garish lighting, and noise to the scene.

Shaking his head, Simon glanced once over his shoulder, staring in the direction that the ambulance had taken before drawing in a deep breath and trying to find some calmness.

Damn, this wasn't supposed to happen.

He spotted Megan near a patrol car, wrapping a bandage around an injured officer's arm. He strode toward her, calling out, "Conner!"

The tall woman, long hair hanging loose over her shoulders, looked up at his approach. "Yes, Captain?"

Simon stopped and rested a hand on the officer's other shoulder, taking a moment to assure himself that the man would be okay. "Let the medics care for him. I need you for something else." He took another breath and lowered his voice. "Find Sandburg. He should either be at the loft or at the University. Get him to the hospital ASAP. Tell him what happened and try to keep him calm."

She nodded once, concern darkening her eyes. "Yes, sir." Nothing else needed to be said. She turned and walked quickly toward the vehicle parked a little further down the road that she'd come in -- Jim's truck. Simon watched her, wondering how they could have avoided this. He'd sent Ellison and Conner out on a routine call, with Sandburg's full approval. Both of them had hoped that maybe by doing a few calls together every now and then that Jim and the inspector would learn to get along better.

And now this...

Simon shook his head, his jaw clenching as he watched Megan get into the truck and start up the engine. Jim had left the keys in the ignition in his and Megan's haste to get to better cover. Bullet holes decorated the back end of the truck bed leading toward the cab, evidence that the move had been a correct one. The truck disappeared quickly into the darkness, following the same path as the ambulance.

Biting down on an imaginary cigar, Simon waved for a medic to come over to check the officer resting on the seat of the patrol car.

Damn, this wasn't supposed to happen. Not like this. Never like this.

**************************

Not finding Blair at the loft, Megan continued toward the University, tearing through the streets as fast as Jim's truck and safety would allow. Jim will have a fit when he learns I drove his truck. She almost smiled, but the urge melted away with the memory of seeing Jim going down in a rush of blood and bullets. Gripping the steering wheel just a little more tightly, she focused on driving, shoving the memories away.

Finally, long minutes later, she pulled up in front of the anthropology building at Rainier University. Fortunately for her, she'd been to Blair's office once or twice since she'd joined Major Crimes. She knew her way around -- more or less. Leaving the truck police lights flashing, she hurried into the building, her low heels clicking on the hallway floors, echoing up into the high ceilings.

Blair's office was locked and apparently empty as no one responded to her knocks. The young man was nowhere to be seen.

"Damn." She pounded a fist on the wall in her frustration.

"Can I help you, miss?"

Whirling, she found herself face-to-face with an older gentleman, a professor she would suppose from the looks of things. Pulling herself together, she yanked out her Cascade PD ID. "Yes, I'm a friend of Blair Sandburg. It is urgent that I find him immediately. Do you know where he is?"

The man nodded and pointed down the hallway. "Room 137. He's teaching a class."

"Thank you." She turned and hurried down the hallway, muttering the room numbers under her breath as she went. Near the end of the long hallway, she found 137. As she approached she could hear the familiar tones of Blair's voice. Laughter arose a minute later from a classroom full of people. Blair's laughter echoed it, ringing out over a sound system.

I'm sorry, Sandy.

Taking a deep breath, she pulled open the door and stepped inside, finding herself at a side entrance. All eyes locked onto her and a gasp rose at her appearance. Looking down, she only then remembered that under the long overcoat, her light-colored blouse and pants were stained with dark blotches that could only be blood -- the blood of one Detective James Ellison. The coat edges had fallen away from each other when she'd opened the door, revealing the bloodstains to the stunned and surprised group of evening class students.

"Megan? What ...?"

Blair's voice drew her attention back to the reason she had come. Looking up again, she met the young man's eyes and locked onto them. She took a step toward him, then stopped again, not knowing how to tell him. His mouth was open, caught in the midst of his query. At first, confusion filled his gaze, then concern at her appearance, then realization of why she must be there. He knows. His face paled and his hands gripped the podium, his knuckles whitening. He lowered his head for a moment, resting his forehead against the hard wood, then swallowed and pushed away from it, walking unsteadily toward her.

He stopped next to her, staring first rather fixedly at her blood-stained blouse, then looking up into her eyes hesitantly, swallowing hard again. He pushed out a whisper, having barely enough volume to be heard over the muted noise of the students just beyond them. "It's Jim, isn't it?"

She nodded. "Yes, it is." Pain filled his eyes and he took another deep breath. Touching his shoulder, she answered the most important questions first. "He's alive, Sandy. They took him to the hospital. Captain Banks sent me to find you. I've got Jim's truck out front."

Blair wilted a little, eyes closing momentarily. Then he straightened again and Megan saw the strength she knew the younger man shared with his partner enter his eyes. "Alive. Okay. Yeah, okay. Let's go." He started toward the door, then stopped and turned back to the class. "I'm got to go. I'm sorry. Family emergency." And then he tore out of the classroom, Megan following him at a run.

**************************

"What happened?"

Yanking on his seatbelt, Blair waited just long enough for Megan to settle into the driver's seat and start up the truck before asking. He hadn't even thought about driving, even though he still was pretty wary about Megan's driving skills in the States. Staring down at his hands for a moment, noting how they shook even clasped together in his lap, he shook his head. I'd just get us both in a wreck and then we'd never get to Jim. He swallowed hard. Jim.

As they pulled back out onto the main road, using the police lights to gain an entrance and push through the late rush hour traffic, Megan replied to Blair's query. "A call about an armored truck heist came over the police band when Jim and I were on our way back from a little Q&A footwork for a case. Since we were close to it, Jim--"

Blair interrupted softly. "Jim decided to get involved." He rubbed a hand over his face. "I'm sorry. Go on."

He let the rest of Megan's tale wash over him, the words barely registering. The long chase, which ended in the neighborhood culdesac, a dead-end road. The shoot-out. Jim's plan to circle around to get a better shot at the men hiding just within the half-closed back door. And then the hidden shooter that popped out as Jim dashed from behind one car to another, vulnerable for only a moment. That moment had been all the shooter had needed to drop Jim. Within minutes, however, the police had stormed the truck and the situation had been ended.

"I should have been there." Blair didn't realize he'd spoken the words aloud until Megan's voice stopped, then started again, speaking more softly.

"No, Sandy, he wouldn't have wanted you there. It was too dangerous. You could've been hurt."

He shook his head, uncurling his closed fists to wrap his arms around himself. "I'm his partner. I belong at his side, no matter how dangerous it is. What if--" What if he'd zoned? What if he'd needed me to help him? What if he'd discovered the other shooter if I'd been there with him? What if this could all have been prevented?

Megan didn't say anything for long moments as they sped down the road, getting closer to the hospital -- and Jim -- with every moment. Blair finally spoke up again, his voice eerily calm, despite a slight crackle in the undertone. "I think the only reason I'm still functioning right now is because Simon sent you to get me. If Simon had come himself, I probably would've thought Jim was dead. I would've known he was dead." He looked over at her, catching her eyes for a moment as they passed under streetlights. "Thank you."

She shook her head. "Sandy, you shouldn't thank me for having to tell you about Jim."

"No, not that." He gestured vaguely toward her clothes. "I'm thanking you for helping Jim. That's his blood, isn't it?"

After a second, Megan nodded, eyes focused back on the road. "Yes. I tried to stop the bleeding for a bit before the medics arrived."

Blair opened his mouth, then closed it again, the reopened it. "Was he conscious at all?"

"For a little while, yes. He said a few colorful phrases, muttered something about a dial, then passed out. The ambulance got there in the next few moments and took over."

The pain dial. Oh, man, I hope it worked. And still is working. And what about the anesthesia? And surgery? We never did get around to testing that. Blair closed his eyes tightly. He wanted to curl up into a ball and wish that this wasn't happening. That it was all just some horrible dream, a nightmare, something he'd wake from and find Jim humming in the kitchen while making breakfast. He felt Megan's hand rest on his shoulder, squeezing briefly before she returned her grip to the steering wheel.

Nope, this is real. Too real.

Ignoring all his impulses to just slowly dissolve and let the franticness at the back of his mind take over, he took a deep breath, then another one.

"You okay, Sandy?"

"Okay?" His voice cracked and he paused to clear his throat. "I don't know. It depends on what happens with Jim. If he's gonna be okay, then so will I. If he di--" He couldn't say the word, not when the possibility seemed so close. "I don't know, Megan."

She glanced at him again as they turned into the hospital parking lot, heading toward the emergency entrance. "Jim's strong, Sandy. He's a fighter, you know that. He won't be defeated easily, if at all." Stopping the truck at the entrance, she touched his arm again, wrapping her fingers around his forearm. "I'll go park the truck and be right back to meet you inside. Okay?"

Blair met her eyes briefly, the deep blue depths reflecting the lights of the ER entrance. Closing his hand over hers momentarily, he forced a nod. "Okay." He exited the truck and walked to the automatic glass doors which opened before him with a soft whoosh. He heard the truck pulling away, leaving him standing alone.

Shivering, he tucked his hands under his arms, vaguely remembering that he'd forgotten to grab his jacket out of his office in his rush to get here. And now that I'm here, I don't want to go inside. He stared past the doors to the busy ER stations, seeing the mingled patients and doctors and nurses moving around in some kind of chaotic organization that seemed to be endemic to hospitals, particularly to emergency rooms.

Standing out here in the cold isn't gonna help either one of you, Sandburg. Just get in there and tell them that Jim is gonna be okay. He's always okay. As Simon would say, the man is too stubborn to be anything but '100 percent'.

Taking one last fortifying breath, he walked past the doors, ignoring them as they slowly closed behind him.

**************************

Hours passed -- hours which Blair either didn't really notice or felt dragged on forever. Simon caught up with them eventually in the waiting room, talking quietly with Megan over Blair's head, a hand resting on his back in silent comfort. Someone showed up with a change of clothes for Megan; someone else had stopped by Blair's office and found his jacket for him. It lay draped over his shoulders, the sleeves hanging empty and loose.

Occasionally a nurse would appear, telling them the same thing -- Jim was still in surgery, still stable, and the doctor would see them just as soon as he could.

At one point, Megan stepped away for a bit, leaving Blair and Simon alone in one corner of the waiting room. Her low heels clicked softly on the tile as she walked down the hall, heading for the payphone so she could call the station to fill them in on the latest news -- which, admittedly, wasn't much. Blair idly watched her leave, then turned to Simon, meeting the dark eyes of the captain. Simon raised a curious eyebrow and waited, his shoulder touching Blair's as they sat on the semi-comfortable hospital chairs.

"This whole thing, our idea of having Jim and Megan take the occasional call together, it was wrong. All wrong. I should've been with him." Blair surprised himself with the calm, even tone of his voice.

Simon frowned, shaking his head. "Don't start with this, Sandburg. This wasn't Jim or Megan's fault. And it certainly isn't your fault." Blair started to interrupt, but the tall captain held up a finger. "No, listen to me. I'm not gonna try to explain to Jim or Conner later why and how you convinced me to change assignments on them again. They're learning to get along. Things have quieted down. It was a good plan. One that we all agreed on. One that kept you and Jim as partners and still brought Megan fully into the department."

Blair jumped up from the chair, pacing several feet away, both hands raising to shove his hair away from his face. "This wasn't something we agreed on, Simon. This wasn't supposed to happen."

After a moment, Simon stood, reaching Blair in a few long strides and laying a hand on Blair's shoulder from behind. "No, it wasn't. But it didn't happen because you weren't there. It happened simply because it did."

Arms clutched around himself, the young man glanced back at him for a moment, then returned his eyes to the far wall, laughing once humorlessly. "It happened because it did. What kind of logic is that, Simon?"

"It isn't logic, Blair, it's just how things are. It happened. It would've happened even if you'd been there. And had you been there, I might've sitting out here waiting for word on two of my men instead of just one." He squeezed Blair's shoulder and rocked the younger man on his feet. "I wouldn't want that and neither would Jim. Do you understand me?"

Long moments later, Blair's tense frame relaxed just a bit under Simon's hand and he turned to face the tall captain. "Yeah, I understand you. I don't like it, but I understand."

Simon draped his arm over Blair's shoulders, slowly leading him back to their chairs. "I don't like it either, Sandburg. I never like it when one of my men goes down. And when that man is a close friend as well..." He shook his head.

"Mr. Sandburg? Captain Banks?"

Both men looked up at the unfamiliar voice. A doctor, evidenced by the green scrubs and medical ID, stood in the wide doorway, a loose mask hanging around his throat. Blair opened his mouth to ask how Jim was, but found his throat closed up. The doctor, however, noticed and smiled reassuringly.

"The surgery went well. He'll make it."

Falling into the chair next to him, Blair didn't hear anything that the doctor and Simon exchanged, only the hum of quiet voices, accompanied the familiar, grounding touch of Simon's hand resting on his shoulder. He didn't need to hear anything else. He knew all he needed to.

Jim is alive. He's gonna be okay.

**************************

Blair stood at the doorway of Jim's room, watching as the nurse made a last few finishing adjustments to the IV tubing before she withdrew from the side of the bed. She passed Blair in the doorway, giving him a soft, understanding smile before vanishing into the hall. Knees feeling suddenly a little weak, Blair walked to Jim's side.

Hands gripping the bed railing, he just stared for several long moments, watching Jim's chest rise and fall with each inhalation. He's breathing on his own -- that's a good thing. Didn't Simon say something about how it wasn't at bad as it had looked at the scene? Jim's eyes flickered once beneath pale, blue-veined eyelids. How can anyone be that pale and still be alive? He'd sat with Jim in the hospital a few times in the past, but never for anything so terribly frightening. He shuddered. I'll never forget seeing Megan enter the classroom like that. Never.

Prying stiffening fingers from the railing, he shifted one hand up to hover in the air just above Jim's forehead. A bandage was taped to one temple where either a bullet or maybe a glass fragment or something like that had struck him. Slowly, being careful to avoid the injury, Blair lowered his hand until his fingers and palm touched Jim's head. Cool skin met his, colder than it should be, but not too cold. Blood loss maybe? He shook his head. It didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was that Jim was alive and he would recover. Recover and wake up.

Blair pressed down on Jim's forehead, moving his fingers gently in small circles. Leaning down a little, he moved his other hand to touch the injured man's chest just above the encircling white bandages. He whispered, "You hear me, Jim? I know you're in there. You need to get better. You will get better. I know you." His lips tilted up on one side in a small smile. "Besides, you don't want me driving your truck now, do you? Actually Megan's already driven it, so I don't know that it can get any worse. But don't worry, it's still in one piece."

No visible reaction from the sleeping man, but somehow Blair knew Jim could hear him. He could always hear him. Jim's predictable answer rang in his mind. 'You let Conner drive the truck again and I'll make you clean the bathroom floor with a toothbrush, Sandburg. Your toothbrush!'

Blair chuckled weakly, almost able to ignore the wetness that had started to gather in his eyes. "I don't know which one of us would've been a worse driver right then. Megan because she still doesn't get it sometimes, or me because I was a total basket case." He squeezed his eyes closed tightly, bending further over the railing, his hair falling forward to drift lazily over Jim's bare shoulders and neck. His voice dropped to a bare fragment of a whisper, pitched only for the ears of his sentinel. "I was so scared, Jim. I couldn't think. I didn't want to think. All I could do was be glad it was Megan instead of Simon and that if it had been Simon..."

A low voice spoke his name and a hand touched his back at the same time. "Blair? You okay?"

Blair lifted his head and glanced next to him, meeting Simon's eyes for a moment before both men looked back at Jim's sleeping form. Leaving his one hand on Jim's forehead, Blair used the other to wipe away the streaks of wetness under his eyes. "Yeah, I'm okay. A little worn at the edges, I think, but okay." He stroked his thumb on the skin under his hand. "And so is Jim. Aren't you?"

Simon stretched out his other hand to touch Jim's forearm lightly, wary of the IV. "I know. Ellison's too tough, too damn stubborn to die. We both know that."

They watched Jim in silence for a minute, both wanting to see some sign that he could hear them, that he could sense their presence. Neither really expected anything, but the hopes were there.

Simon spoke up again. "So, do you want me to bring you anything from home?"

Blair looked over at him, blinking, then smiling. "You mean you're not gonna try to make me leave or something?"

Simon snorted. "Do I look that stupid? I know how the two of you work. You'll stay here until he wakes up and you both know the other is okay. Then and only then will I even be able to suggest you might go home to sleep in your bed at night."

Chuckling once, Blair looked around for a chair to pull over next to the bed. "Thanks, Simon."

"You're welcome." He watched as Blair managed to drag a chair over with one hand and a foot, all without losing contact with Jim. He sank down into the chair, shifting his touch to Jim's arm. Simon touched Blair's shoulder. "Try to get a little rest, okay, Sandburg? Call me if you need anything. And don't bug the nurses too much. I don't want to be getting any calls to get you removed from the premises."

"Yes, sir, Captain, sir."

Rolling his eyes, Simon squeezed his shoulder, then returned his attention to Jim for another moment. "You'd better wake up soon, Ellison. You leave Sandburg and me alone too long, who knows what will happen."

Blair laughed softly and nodded to Simon as the captain left, listening to his heavy footsteps disappear down the hall. He looked back at Jim, fingers moving on his arm.

"It's just you and me again, Jim. I'm not supposed to talk much, since they think that'll disturb you. We know better, but I don't want to get into trouble and lose permission to stay with you, so I'll work on being quiet. So you just rest and know that I'm here." He deepened his touch on Jim's arm for a moment to emphasize his words, then settled back into his chair, letting the sound of his partner's breathing lull him into a semi-dozing, semi-meditative state.

"I'm right here."

**************************

"....hmmm...."

The small sound tugged at Blair, poking the younger man awake. He blinked a few times, raising his free hand to rub at his eyes. "Oh, man, what time is it?" He squinted at his wristwatch in the dim light, barely able to make out the time to be sometime after two in the morning. Yawning, he stretched a little, his muscles definitely feeling the abuse of sitting in the rather uncomfortable hospital chair for so long. Probably made that way on purpose so people don't visit for too long.

"....hmmm...."

That time the sound actually registered in Blair's ears and he pushed himself to his feet rapidly, shifting his hand from Jim's shoulder to his forehead again. He watched Jim's face, looking for signs that the man was waking up. "Jim? You with me here?"

"....hmmm...."

Blair raised an eyebrow even as he moved his fingers over Jim's forehead, pushing back the flyaway hairs that stuck to his fingers. "Was that a yes or a no?"

Jim's eyelids twitched and his lips opened a little, a hint of a word creaking out. "Bla..."

"Yeah, it's me, Jim. It's Blair." He leaned over a little bit more, shifting his other hand up to touch Jim's chest briefly. "I'm right here." Too bad I can't just lower the railing and sit on the bed next to him. But that would probably jar his injuries too much. And I won't hurt him.

Jim's eyelids finally dragged themselves partially open and Blair smiled widely as two unfocused, drug-dosed, sleepy blue eyes latched onto him. "Hey, there." He kept his voice quiet, both not wanting to attract the attention of the nurses -- Jim didn't need to be poked and prodded -- and not wanting to overwhelm Jim in his current state. He didn't know what Jim's senses were doing at the moment and he didn't want to provoke anything into happening. "How do you feel?"

At first, only a slow blink answered him, then Jim's softly slurred voice. "Numb. Tired."

Blair nodded. "I know. You were shot, remember?"

"Yeah. 'm okay?"

Still stroking his fingers across Jim's forehead, Blair replied to that statement with both relief and reassurance. "Yeah, you're gonna be fine, the doctors say." He swallowed, shoving away the last final remnants of worry that something would happen to change that prognosis. Jim woke up. He'd be fine now. "You just need to rest up a little. You'll be back chasing the bad guys before you know it."

"Good." His eyelids drifted closed.

Blair rubbed his eyes with his free hand, finding that annoying wetness returning to them yet again. Jim's eyes reopened as he dropped his hand back to his side. Those blue eyes pinned him with a suspiciously alert and assessing stare.

"You okay?"

"Me?" Blair touched his own chest with his free hand. "Um, yeah, yeah, I'm okay. Earlier, I wasn't. But now," he smiled, "now I'm okay." He felt a jerky, fumbling movement against the bed railing and looked down to see Jim's arm trying to move upward. Reaching down, he grasped Jim's hand with his own, entwining their fingers together, letting Jim gain comfort by giving comfort. "We're both okay." He ran his thumb over Jim's in a slow, tender caress, avoiding the IV with care.

Again, Jim's eyelids drifted closed. "Go home. Sleep."

Blair smoothed the skin on Jim's forehead, letting his hand drift down to cup his cheek. "I'm gonna stay here for a bit and keep an eye on you. Make sure you behave yourself."

"Hmmm." Jim's lips tipped up into a crooked smile. "You need to sleep too." He let his head roll to one side slightly, leaning into the warmth of Blair's palm. "Call Simon."

"Tomorrow, Jim. You rest now."

"'kay. 'm going back to sleep, Chief."

"Okay, Jim. I'll be here when you wake up."

Blair continued to stand there for a time, not wanting to move and disturb the quiet, natural sleep Jim needed. His fingers continued to move lazily over Jim's skin, one hand on his cheek, the other entwined with the detective's own fingers. Finally, slowly, he shifted his hand away from Jim's cheek to rest on the top of his head. Then, he leaned over and pressed his lips to Jim's forehead in a soft, lingering kiss. "Sleep well, Jim."

Jim's fingers tightened on his briefly in his sleep, then relaxed as he let the pull of slumber firmly draw him away.

Pulling the chair a little closer to the bed so he could retain his hold on Jim's hand, Blair sat down again. Settling back into a comfortable position, he prepared to keep watch until morning light dawned in the east. Tomorrow, he'd go home. For now, he was content to watch his sentinel sleep.

- The End -